Opinion 03-53

September 4, 2003


Digest:         A judge may serve as chairperson of the Advisory Council of a not- for-profit organization that operates day care and senior citizen centers, provided that there is adherence to the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct.


Rule:            22 NYCRR 100.2(C); 100.3(A); 100.4(A)(3); 100.4(C)(3); 100.4(C) (3)(b)(i)


         The inquiring judge asks whether he/she may serve as chairperson or vice chairperson of an Advisory Council of a not-for-profit social service organization that operates ten day care and senior citizen centers. Although the by-laws permit compensation for officers, the judge states that he/she will remain unsalaried.

         A judge may serve as an officer or director of a charitable organization not conducted for profit. 22 NYCRR 100.4(C)(3). It appears that the organization falls within that category and thus the inquirer may serve as chairperson or vice chairperson of the organization.

         But such service is subject to various restrictions and cautions. For example, the inquirer may not “personally participate in the solicitation of funds or other fund-raising activities.” 22 NYCRR 100.4(c)(3)(b)(i). Nor should the judge use his or her judicial position to advance the private interests of the organization. 22 NYCRR 100.2(C). And, given the apparent scope of the organization’s activities, the judge should be aware that the “judicial duties of a judge take precedence over all the judge’s other activities.” (22 NYCRR 100.3[A]), and that such activities must not “interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties. . . ” 22 NYCRR 100.4(A)(3). Subject to such limitations and caveats there is no ethical barrier to the inquirer serving in the capacity stated.